With TU moving online, members of Greek Life adjust how they build relationships
When Emily Couture first got to Towson University, the campus didn’t quite feel like home.
The Howell, New Jersey, native was very involved in high school, so her first term at TU was rough. She didn’t meet a lot of people and hadn’t connected with anyone or anything on campus yet.
“I love it and, looking back on my time now, I don’t regret anything I’ve done in Kappa Delta,” Couture says. “It’s been amazing, and it’s helped me make my imprint on TU. I’m currently the chapter’s vice president of community service, so I help in networking, raising money and meeting with people we’ve been helping.
“I’ve never had a bad experience, and these opportunities helped make me the leader I am now.”
Couture is just one of many members of the TU Greek Life community. As of fall 2019, there were 43 fraternities and sororities on campus totaling 1,834 members—11% of the TU undergraduate population.
Like the rest of the student organizations, COVID-19 forced Greek Life students off campus and into remote learning in March. This also included canceling in-person meetings, recruitment events and even Greek Week. But many of these organizations are still welcoming new pledges, virtually.
Devon Stella, who served as president of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority this past year, says one of the worst parts of the pandemic is not having in-person bonds with her sisters.
“It really stinks for our new members because they couldn’t get the entire effect of their first semester of Greek Life,” Stella says. “And it hurts that we don’t get to honor our seniors for all their hard work. We do a seniors and parents brunch where we honor our graduates with a slide show that tells us their plans, favorite memory and advice.
“Luckily we can still do these things virtually over Zoom.”
In fact, many Greek Life organizations have been finding ways to bond online.
Alpha Gamma Delta has been connecting through Zoom in a variety of ways. They have regular chapter meetings on Sundays and have found fun and new activities to do online.
This includes hosting online group yoga sessions, learning a craft from different members and a Bring Your Pet day where each sister’s Zoom screen features a furry friend.
According to chapter president Lexi Lundstedt, they are also focusing on self-care. That’s why the Alpha Gammas came up with Quarantine Quest, a list of activities to keep sisters’ minds and bodies focused. If they do a certain amount, they earn a reward when returning to campus.
“It was a learning process because we’ve never seen anything like this,” Lundstedt says. “The one thing this can’t take away is our sisterhood. We’ve had a surplus of ideas that our chapter members have come up with.
“We’re living up to our values, and I’m so insanely proud of how we’ve adjusted. I love these women with all my heart, and I wouldn’t be chapter president if I didn’t believe in them.”
Along with building camaraderie, one of the main aspects of Greek Life is philanthropy. During the fall 2019 term, Greek Life organizations raised more than $73,000 for charity and performed more than 9,600 hours of community service.
Zeta Tau Alpha held a virtual pink week to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research.
In April, Kappa Delta participated in Child Abuse Prevention Month. To bring awareness to the cause, members wore blue and posted pictures on social media. They also met with members of the Girl Scouts of America through Zoom to talk about subjects such as anti-bullying and self-confidence.
“Giving back to the community is a priority for everyone in the Greek Life community,” says Couture. “TU students and the Greek Life community, we’re there for one another and feel supported.”
Along with leaning on each other, each organization has credited the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life for staying in touch with them during the entire spring term.
Whether it was through email or the weekly adviser and president meetings, the Greek Life office made sure each organization knew how to keep their momentum and connect during the pandemic.
And with TU planning to welcome students back in the fall, many are hoping to bring this new momentum to their in-person meetings.
“I’m so excited, and I think we’re going to be stronger than ever,” Couture says. “This is going to make us appreciate our sisters more and the time we have with each other. I’m excited and eager to hang out again.”
Joining a fraternity or sorority on campus is a great way to get involved, meet new people and develop your leadership skills. Learn more about joining a Greek Life organization, including the requirements, frequently asked questions and recruitment procedures.
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: Culture of Philanthropy.